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Variety The Children's Charity Changes Lives

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[MyVoice: Hello. Hello I'm Tyler.]

Good job. Good job.

Tyler he's 5 and about to go into kindergarten. He's autistic and he's on the spectrum in the area with his communication. It makes it very difficult for him to talk to everybody.

Varieties "MyVoice" program was launched a couple years ago in response to listening to parents tell us the challenges that their kids who have a communication disorder or nonverbal are facing. If you think about it, easily I mean how, if you're nonverbal how do you tell your mom or dad you're in pain? Where's the pain? How bad the pain is. Or if you have to go to the bathroom. Or did you prefer a hot dog instead of a hamburger. I mean from real serious things to the basic things of life.

He gets frustrated. Especially like things like food and drink or what he wants.

Before he got the "MyVoice" we didn't know what he wanted to do because it was really frustrating to um know what he was saying sometimes but only sometimes we could understand him.

He'd be asking me something, I wouldn't know what he would be saying. I would just guess and he would be like "No."

Sometimes I would be close to tears, like I'm sorry I don't know what you want.

MyVoice enables kids to tell us what they want to eat, what they want to do, how they feel.

It's their voice, I mean this is how they communicate. I mean this is what they need.

He can tell us to play a game with him if he wants to one time, and he can tell us to read the directions for him.

I can't tell you how many mothers have said to me, they want to hear their child say for the first time "I love you mom". They don't care if it's through a device. They just want to know that their child is intentionally choosing to say "I love you mom."

This is the best gift he could have ever gotten. It's really helping he seems him much happier.

He's actually talking more because he's forming more sentences. He forms it on there then he tries to repeat it. Sometimes he even says it on his own.

[MyVoice: I love you Nana.]

Aww and I love you too.

No child should be without a voice. No child should be without a voice.

It's a great program. I mean there are so many kids out there that could use this.

It's greatly changed our lives because now he can communicate.

We can spend more time now doing fun things instead of me trying to figure out what he wants.

Whatever is in here he is actually able to get out now.

This isn't just about providing equipment. This is about building a movement to get society to recognize that these kids deserve that opportunity. That's why we're so fortunate to have our partnership with Edgar Snyder and them bring awareness because there's going to be no action unless there's awareness. So for for Edgar Snyder to bring attention to this unmet need, this hidden need of kids is just absolutely fantastic.

[MyVoice: There's no fee unless we get money for you.]

Teaming Up With Variety to Give Kids a Voice

Edgar Snyder & Associates has long been a supporter of Variety the Children's Charity and its programs for children with disabilities. We see how adaptive equipment makes all the difference in the lives of children and their families throughout western Pennsylvania.

Custom built and designed for each child's specific needs, equipment like bikes and strollers help them more easily socialize and play with their siblings and peers.

Now we want to help get the word out about another of Variety's life-changing programs called MyVoice.

About Variety's MyVoice Program

Imagine if you couldn't communicate with your loved ones. What if you couldn't tell them you are hungry, that you are in pain, or even that you love them?

Variety Pittsburgh launched its newest initiative, the MyVoice program, in November 2014 to help ensure that children with communication disorders have their own voices to do just that.

Through the program, children who qualify receive their very own communication device—an iPad— that comes complete with a prescribed communication app. Each device comes with a convenient strap to make it easy for the child to carry with them everywhere they go.

This means that kids have a voice at doctor's appointments, restaurants, and at home with their families—everywhere. The communication devices help them continue the progress they've made at school—where many have communication devices to use during classroom instruction.

Applying for Variety's MyVoice Program

Do you know a child with a communication disorder who might benefit from Variety's MyVoice program?

To be eligible for the program, the child and/or his family must:

  • Have a communication disorder documented by a speech language pathologist.
  • Reside within Variety’s 29-county service area in Pennsylvania that includes: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer, Perry, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland.
  • Be between the ages of 4 and 21 years. Note: An application may be submitted up to 60 days prior to the child’s 4th birthday.
  • Submit a letter of medical justification (LJM) from a speech language pathologist stating the child has successfully trialed an iPad as a communication device and that it would be appropriate for use at home and at school.
  • Meet income guidelines and complete the application process.

How You Can Help

If you think your child—or a child you know—qualifies for the MyVoice program, please visit the MyVoice application page for more information and to start the application process.

To make a donation or find out how you can make a difference in the life of a child, visit Variety's website.